NAMING OUR HEROINES AND HOW WE DO IT

Last time, I posted about the heroes’ names we come up with.  I think it’s only fair to give some time to looking at the heroines’ names in this post. 

For some reason, choosing the name of the heroine of a story is hard for me—much harder than naming the hero.  I’m wondering if it’s because, as women, we give more thought to what we find attractive in a man (naturally!)   Even if he’s “Hunk of the Week,” if his name doesn’t appeal to us, it’s hard to think of him romantically. 

We are seeing our heroines from a different perspective.  They are…us.  So, naming them might not be as important in our minds, since secretly, we are them.  (No, we can’t use our own name!)

The various heroines of our stories, while different in some respects, still retain qualities of ourselves that we’ve endowed them with.  If you look at the heroines you’ve created, though they come from different places and circumstances and have different views of the world, there are some basic things about them that don’t change.

There are at least three basic considerations for naming our heroines, apart from the obvious ones we covered when we talked about naming our guys (time period, setting, etc.) 

The first one is, understanding the heroine and her motives.

Let’s look a minute at how a part of ourselves creep into our heroines’ lives, no matter what sub-genre we write.  I always think of two examples that stand out in my own life experience that are easy to show.

Growing up in the 1960’s, women had three basic career opportunities:  teacher, secretary, nurse.  Those limitations didn’t matter, because I wanted to be a nurse ever since I could recall.  But because my parents discouraged me from that field, I never pursued it—except in my writing. 

At some point, in every story I write, that aspect of myself comes through in my heroine.  There is always a need for her to use her nursing skills, and it’s usually to take care of the wounded hero.  (In a Cheryl Pierson story, the hero will always be hurt somewhere along the way.  Much like the guys with the red shirts on Star Trek know they won’t be beaming back to the Enterprise from the planet’s surface, my heroes always have to figure they’re going to need some kind of medical care to survive my story.)

The second example is the fact that, being a child of an alcoholic father, I do not like surprises.  I want to know that things will be steady, stable and secure.  But what can be certain in a tale of romance?  Nothing!  Just as the hero of my stories is going to be physically in jeopardy at some point, the heroine will always have to make a decision—  a very hard decision—as to whether she will give up everything that she’s built her life around for the hero.  Will she take a chance on love?  In the end, of course, it’s always worth the gamble.  But, because I am not a risk-taker in real life, my heroines carry that part of me, for the most part, with them—until they have to make a hard choice as to whether or not to risk everything for the love of the hero.

The second consideration is, that we must like the heroine. 

She is us!  Have you ever started writing a story after carefully picking names for your hero and heroine, only to discover you really don’t like the character herself; or maybe, when you write the name of the character, you feel your lip starting to curl?  Is it the name itself you don’t like after repetitive use, or is it the character you’ve created?  Either way, there’s a problem.  Stop and consider exactly what it is about that character/name you have started to dislike.  Remember, the heroine is part of you.  If you’re hitting a rough spot in real life, it could be you are injecting some of those qualities into your character unwittingly.  There may be nothing wrong with the name you’ve selected…it could just be your heroine has taken an unforeseen character turn that you aren’t crazy about.

The third consideration is that we have to give her a name that reflects her inner strengths but shows her softer side. 

This is not a dilemma for male characters.  We don’t want to see a soft side—at least, not in this naming respect.

I try to find a name for my heroines that can be shortened to a pet name or nickname by the hero.  (Very handy when trying to show the closeness between them, especially during those more intimate times.)

I always laugh when I think about having this conversation with another writer friend of mine, Helen Polaski. She and I were talking one day about this naming of characters, and I used the example of one of my favorite romances of all time, “Stormfire” by Christine Monson.  The heroine’s name is Catherine, but the hero, at one point, calls her “Kitten.”  Later, he calls her “Kit”—which I absolutely love, because I knew, even though “Kit” was short for Catherine, that he and I both were thinking of the time he’d called her “Kitten”—and so was she!  Was “Kit” a short version of Catherine for him, or was he always thinking of her now as “Kitten”?  Helen, with her dry northern humor, replied, “Well, I guess I’m out of luck with my name.  The hero would be saying, ‘Oh, Hel…’”

One final consideration is the way your characters’ names go together; the way they sound and “fit.”  Does the heroine’s name work well not only with the hero’s first name, but his last name, too?  In most cases, eventually his last name will become hers.  Last names are a ‘whole ’nother’ blog!

In 1880, the top ten female names were, in order:  Mary, Anna, Emma, Elizabeth (4), Minnie, Margaret, Ida, Alice, Bertha, and Sarah (10).

By 1980, they’d changed drastically:  Jennifer, Amanda, Jessica, Melissa, Sarah (5), Heather, Nicole, Amy, Elizabeth (9) and Michelle.

Twenty-nine years later, in 2009, there seemed to be a resurgence toward the “older” names:  Emma, which was completely out of the top twenty in 1980, had resurfaced and taken the #1 spot, higher than it had been in 1880.  The others, in order, are:  Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Abigail, Elizabeth (9), and Chloe.  Sarah was #20, being the only other name besides Elizabeth that remained in the top twenty on all three charts.

If you write historicals, these charts are great to use for minor and secondary characters as well.  If you’ve chosen a name for your heroine that’s a bit unusual, you can surround her with “ordinary” characters to provide the flavor of the time period, while enhancing her uniqueness.

Names can also send “subliminal” messages to your reader.  I wrote my short story, “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”,  about a couple that meet under odd circumstances and experience their own miracle on Christmas Eve.  Halfway through the story, I realized what I’d done and the significance of the characters’ names.

In this excerpt, widow Angela Bentley has taken in a wounded stranger and the three children who are with him on a cold, snowy night.   Here’s what happens:

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”:

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”
I hope you have enjoyed this look into A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES.  Thanks for reading!  Please leave a comment!

Cheryl

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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62 thoughts on “NAMING OUR HEROINES AND HOW WE DO IT”

  1. Loved, loved, loved this post. So true in so many regards.

    I always enjoy when a hero comes up with his own name for the heroine that makes her look at herself and HIM differently. Sometimes, the author has the hero call the heroine by her full name because it has been shortened, such as a family calling a character Lizzie and the hero choose to call her Elizabeth. A plainer name exchanged for a royal one…and I am not saying that just because my middle name is Elizabeth.

    Then there are the times, as you mentioned, when he comes up with a nickname. It seems nicknames would be easier to come up with because they are often adjectives describing the heroine. But is that the case? Have you ever come up with a nickname first and then have to figure out a name?

    I laughed about your “red shirt” analogy. As a died in the wool Trekkie, it was so true in regards to your characters. And I nodded at your comment about your dad. I know where you are coming from and figure that is part of the appeal of romance for me, because I know an HEA is coming.

    Thanks for this post. Looking forward to everyone’s comments.

  2. Thanks for the great post,I love,love that cover on the book,im a big Christmas novel fan,the most favorite for me to read an this one looks yummy

  3. Great post, and loved the excerpt! My heroines seem to end up caring for wounded heroes too. I also like names that the hero can shorten to a nickname, and I love old-fashioned names. Emily is a favorite of mine, though I haven’t used it for a heroine yet.

  4. I’ve noticed that my nieces are naming their children old fashioned names: Anna, 2-Lydias, Owen, Stephen, Jameson, Ellie, Emma and Cameron

    Neighbors: many Madeline’s, Sara, Megan, Rachel, Andrew, Catherine and Melanie

  5. I have never liked my name but I can’t tell anyone that because I was named after my Mother’s only sister. She is now in her late 80’s and I love her very much. However, when I say my name together if you are not listening closely sometimes people think I am telling them where to go!

  6. Hi Julie,

    YES! I agree! I love it when they come up with a special name, or variation of a name, or at least the hero does. Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with a special name for the heroine to call the hero without sounding too mushy. LOL I love the name Elizabeth. I would have used that for my daughter, but my older sister’s middle name was Elizabeth and she used it on her daughter. But it is a great name, because there are so many variations on it–Libby is a good one, too. And even though I jokingly said “we can’t use our own name”–in your case, you could get away with it because of all the variations and it’s been such a “mainstay” name for so long. I probably would have reservations about naming one of my heroines “Cheryl.” LOL

    As for nicknames, that’s a good question you posed. I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a nickname then had to figure out what the character’s real name was. But that’s a great exercise for my writing students, as well as something I want to try. I can see where that might help you identify characteristics in your “people” and give them even more personality.

    YAY!!! ANOTHER TREKKIE!!! I always had to laugh about those red shirt guys. I can imagine their Hollywood agents saying “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I got you a small speaking part on a Star Trek episode. The bad news is…yeah…you’re wearing a red shirt. It’s a VERY small speaking part.” LOL

    Thanks so much for commenting, Julie. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    Cheryl

  7. Hi Vickie!

    I love Christmas stories too–of any kind. A Night For Miracles started out as a short story, but as I wrote, it became a novella. LOL I have a “free read” Christmas short story at The Wild Rose Press, a western historical called UNTIL THE LAST STAR BURNS OUT. You might enjoy that as well. Nicola Martinez did that cover, and also the cover for Fire Eyes. I think she did a great job!

    Cheryl

  8. Hey Jennie!

    So you write wounded heroes, too? GREAT! I don’t know why but it always works out that way for my heroes, God bless ’em! LOL But they always get their HEA in the end. I like the name “Emily” too, but I’ve never used it either. My characters kind of tell me what their names are going to be–not much “picking and choosing” going on for me once they make up their minds. LOL

    Thank you so much for commenting!
    Cheryl

  9. Hi Laurie,

    I’ve noticed the trend to older names, too. I like that. I remember a story my mom used to tell about her younger sister, Merle. When Merle had her 2nd son (he was about a year younger than I)she called my mom and said, “We named him Billy Tim!” Mom goes, “Why didn’t you name him William Timothy?” Merle said, “Oh…I wish we’d thought of that.” LOL I think those names that give some flexibility are the best, don’t you? Love those older names!

    Cheryl

  10. Hi Goldie,

    Your name is very unique, which is a blessing and a curse, as I know from experience. I had to laugh about your comment about saying your name fast. LOL I never thought of that, but now that you mention it…My parents did something kind of similar to my oldest sis without realizing it. Her name is Mary Annette–sounds like marrionette when you say it fast. At least you are named for someone you really love and care for. How awful it would be if the person you were named for wasn’t someone you looked up to! I do know how you feel though. You are a very sensitive person for not voicing your feelings and hurting your aunt–I’m sure she’s been proud through the years to have you as her namesake.

    Cheryl

  11. I had to laugh at the line “My hero will end up hurt along the way”. I have been given so much grief about the hurt hero in my stories, I can’t wait to say, “Oh, I can do it. I’m using the Cheryl Pierson model of romance.”
    Yes, we love those guys in the red shirts they assured us our favorite characters were not going to die. I do love the unusual name for characters my latest heroine is Lily Prentiss and her hero Tyrone Calhoun Dixon. With a name like that my husband says he must be an alpha. LOL. Keep up the great plots.

  12. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for the entertaining post. I want my heroines to have names that fit the period, so I look up the years 1880-1900 on the Social Security website. That’s how I ended up with “Pearl” in my October book. The old fashioned ring to it suited her. I’ve also done a “Mary.” LOL! “Will you marry me, Mary” just didn’t work. I had to write all around her name in the proposal scene, but the simplicity of it fit her personality.

  13. You always make me smile, Cheryl. And I am so with everyone about the poor “red shirts” on Star Trek. If they were a new face without a name or lines you could look for them to be disintegrated just anytime. LOL I love heroine names that can be shortened. Lately I have had the nickname on the page before having to find the appropriate full name. And while you tend to nurse your heroes, I tend to sass and argue with mine. LOL Guess that says something about me. Great post!

  14. NANCY!!! LOL!!! I am cracking up–yes, that’s me! I love it– “The Cheryl Pierson Model of Romance”– a new school of thought. LOLLOL Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. Always love to hear from you. And I LOVE that name–TYRONE CALHOUN DIXON. Did that just “come to you” or did you have to really ponder over it awhile? It’s a fantastic name–but you always have a pot of great names in your stories.
    Cheryl

  15. Hi Cheryl, great post! I love names, and I always love it when you talk about A Night for Miracles and the significance of Angela’s and Nick’s names. Can you believe how many times I’ve read that story and never noticed that? Lol. But it’s so perfect, and I think the fact that you didn’t realize what you were doing makes it even more special. It was totally subconscious. I write contemporary and historical, and my historical heroine names (Naomi, Ruth, Ella, Lily) are definitely different from my contemporary names (Erin, Holly, Suzanne, Allison). Naming my characters is one of my favorite things to do when I start a new story.

  16. Good morning, Cheryl.

    Heroine’s names. Well, one thing, I don’t get attached to names at first.
    I just refuse to let them be terribly important. I very often toss them out if they quit working for me.

    My first three heroines Sophie…I was thinking Sophia Goddess of Wisdom. Grace, she begins the book so uptight, so PRIM and PROPER Grace worked well for her. Hannah, I named that heroine Anna for a while then changed it. Not sure why, but I love the name Hannah.

    Cassandra…nicknamed Cassie. Very mild, sweethearted heroine. The hero called her ‘Cass Honey’, so much it was almost a nickname. But Cassandra is also a mythological character and I could have made that name work for a really fiery, strong heroine.

    I have a friend named Paula who teased me about how she’s NEVER read a book with a heroine named Paula. So I said, “I’ll do it. I’ll name my next heroine Paula.”

    I couldn’t do it.

    Sorry.

    So I asked if a secondary character would be okay and she said yes. Then later I had to tell her Paula got shot out of the saddle in the first page of the book. But she was a loved and respected lady so I hope that’s good.

    My friend didn’t seem overly impressed.

    Also, I’m an Amanda Quick fan and she picks some of the most outlandish character names. I just love it. She doesn’t even TRY and be COOL you might say.

    Iphiginia…Imogene…Olympia…odd names but they work PERFECTLY. I should probably be more adventurous with names.

  17. Love the cover and can hardly wait to read the rest! Whatever the names in a novel are, I have never found myself thinking: this name or that name would have been better.

  18. Oh, for pitty-sakes! Which was a favorite exclamation from my great-aunt Audie Mae. Just from my mother’s side of the family, 10 siblings, 12 of her uncles and aunts, I can draw a huge arsenal of names for, usually, secondary characters. Emmer, Rosa Etta, Cora Sue

    My aunts’ names: Autie Mae (“t” instead of “d” as in my great-aunt’s name. Estelle, Doris, Betty Jo, and Naomi Yvonne who would be my twin if we had the same mama.

    That’s right, my mom and my grandmother were pregnant together. As was I and my mom. In both instances the older was pregnant with her last, the younger pregnant with her first. We were not Texans for nothin’! LOL

    As for my heroine’s or secondary characters’ names. I don’t worry about names that speak directly to the era. Folks, I write fiction. In creating characters and the world in which they live, I employ that old saw poetic license in most every thing I write. LOL

    1860-1900: Samantha, White Fawn/Rebecca, Mariah, Larin, Neely, Sarah, Matilda/Mattie, Margaret, Lillibeth, Noelle, Janessa, Pieces of Sky Eyes, Daughter of the Moon, Sparrow, Quiet Bird (who is mute, Talking Woman, Wings of a Dove. More contemporary: Carla, Brenna, Kennedy.

    Names speak to me, just as scenes materialize in my pea brain before I write.

  19. Hi Vicki,

    Simple names are usually the best, aren’t they? I really hate reading a book where I stumble over the name every time I come to it. I can’t get “close” to the characters if I can’t say their names in my mind. I like Pearl and Mary, because they are really pretty and were so popular in the time period. We have a lot of “Marys” in our family. Both my grandmothers were named Mary and their birthdays were both on the same day, 2 years apart. So my sis, being the first grandchild, was named…Mary.

    Cheryl

  20. Hey Rebecca!

    I love your heroines–they are very “sassy”– but they HAVE to be to hold their own with your heroes! I love the way we all tend to write heroines that match our heroes temperaments, and they are all so different yet so interesting.

    Oh, so true about the red shirts. It was especially a sign of foreshadowing when they had NO LINES at all. LOL

    I’m so glad you came over an commented!
    Cheryl

  21. Hey Helen!

    So glad you stopped by to comment! Yes, A Night for Miracles was one of those stories that I really wish now I had made into a BOOK. LOL I had a GREAT EDITOR that brought those characters to life and made that story special in so many ways.

    I like that “naming” process too, Helen. That is one of the most “fun” parts of writing–getting to create the people.

    It’s good to see you here!
    Cheryl

  22. Hi Lyn,

    That truly does make sense! It is very hard to get to know a character or care about their personalities without a name. To me, that’s one of the most important things.

    Cheryl

  23. Hi Mary!

    I agree totally. I’ve started a couple of books and realized a few pages in that I truly just didn’t care for the name(s) I had used. I had to put those aside for awhile until I could come up with a name that truly fit.

    Like you, I think it’s good to be a bit more imaginative with names. I always think it’s fun to come up with the story behind why that person was named what they are named, if it’s something odd. Several years back there was a series of books by Celeste duBlassis, and her characters had some of the oddest names. It seems that, if I remember correctly, the members of the main family that the story revolved around were named after cities–Rome, Paris, Alexandria, etc.

    Love the story about Paula. LOL My daughter asked me why I never named any of my heroines after her, many years ago. I told her the next story I write, the heroine will be Jessica. That next book was FIRE EYES, and I’ve always said that was my ‘good luck’ charm.

    Cheryl

  24. Hi Connie,

    Thanks so much for the kind words! I hope you enjoy A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES.

    I don’t think of “better” names usually when I’m reading someone else’s books. It seems that, like you, once I start reading a book those names are just “right” for those characters. I did know a woman once who would color in the hero’s hair on the cover with a Sharpie if they pictured him as a blond, though. LOL

    Cheryl

  25. Cheryl, I loved the excerpt. Wow! I know I have to have this book! When does it come out? I’ve got to have it. You’ve hooked me.

    Like a true writer, I have a thing for names too. Like my hero, my heroine has to have a strong name. Nothing wimpy. And something easy for the reader to say. I’ve read books where I had no idea about the pronunciation of a name and had to just make up something so I could read the story. In my current wip I first named my heroine Tessa. But after writing the first three chapters it didn’t fit her very well and it seemed like a name for a child. So I shortened it to Tess and like it much better. It made her stronger and a fitting mate for Sloan Sullivan.

  26. Oh, and I have a thing against blond haired heroes too. In all the stories I’ve written I’ve never had a blond hero. I just don’t think it looks attractive for some reason. I prefer heroes with dark hair.

  27. CHERYL–congratulations on your debut post! It is, isn’t it? I didn’t miss one, did I?
    Like everyone else, I enjoyed this post so much–very different, a good post which was entertaining and taught us something, as well. I do get the significance of names pretty well–Angela and Nick in this story, for example, was perfect.
    I can remember people’s names really well if they “look” like their name. For instance, you could only be a “Cheryl”, and since I know a couple of other Cheryls, you all are somewhat alike. If I cannot remember a person’s name, it’s because she/he does not look like her/his name. Understand?
    I know a very tall lanky doctor who is engaged to a very tall lanky nurse and neither of them have the right names. She’s Donna–not right. He’s Dick–for heaven sake’s, no.
    I can be nothing else except a Celia.

    My heroine in All My Hopes and Dreams, Cynthia Harrington, actually has a name that fits her–she first appeared in Texas Blue, and was a spoiled, uppity young woman who headed the social scene in town. But even though she got her come-uppance in “Hopes,” lo and behold, she turned into a good person–but still had that aura of being rather high-up on the social scale. Well, I could go on–but you did a great job. Celia

  28. I enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing it with us… I enjoy reading a book and finding a character with a unigue name or nickname… I know with historicals that names should go with the times, but sometimes one just stands out or fits the character perfectly and makes them memorable! 😀

  29. Well Cheryl, you and I have something else in common! Though I don’t intentionally set out that way, the realization has slapped me across the face that my heroes always, somehow, wind up injured. Wonder why I do that to them? LOL (And, of course, they need the loving, tender touch of the heroine to make the hurt go away. 🙂 )

    And yep, I’ve been there and done that with regards to the alcoholic father.

    For my heroine’s names, since my name is unusual I always try to pick something different, or at least not heard, or used, often. And sure enough, she’ll develop some of my quirks too. LOL

    Great post, Cheryl. Loved it! 🙂

  30. Hi Cheryl,

    I was so glad to see your notice about the blog come through on the bookspafriends loop. I’ve bee missing you! First, fabulous post about heroine neames. I think I spend more time on naming my characters than I initially do on all the plot nuances. If the name doesn’t fit the character, I’m sunk. I found it interesting that Sarah and Elizabeth were such perennially popular names. And great snip from A Night for Miracles. I adore your wounded heroes.

    Hugs! Maggie

  31. Hi Cheryl, looks like I’m in for another great read! I’ve just finished Linda Broday’s Give Me a Texas Ranger anthology. Yummy.

    I won an Amazon gift card from Charlene’s recent contest (no favoritism!) and I know how I’ll be using it.

    I agonize over H and H names. Secondary characters are easier as I seem to name for real people in my life. Marrying Mattie comes out momentarily, however, and I named her after my son Matt LOL. (Don’t tell him.)

    One character’s name that always stays with me is Aislinn from Woodiwiss’s Wolf and The Dove. I think it’s the first romance I read. It really fit the time, I thought (Wm. Conqueror). I kinda get frustrated when Heroines, and Heroes, too, are given names that totally don’t fit the time period…like a Tiffany in the 1800’s. My 1800’s ancestors had named such as Olga, Ida, and Emma…and I think only Emma would make today’s cut LOL.

    Excellent post today! oxoxxo

  32. Hi Joyce!

    I think that must have happened a lot more “back in the day”–moms and daughters being pregnant together, I mean. My mom had my oldest sister three months after my grandmother had her last child, my mom’s youngest brother. I think that would be so cool, though. I remember going to school with two girls who were an aunt and niece. We were all in the same grade together.

    Very interesting about the names in your family! My mom was the oldest of 11 kids, and her mom came from one of those “yours, mine and ours” families so there were a total of about 16 kids in that group. There were some odd names to pick from, all around.

    Cheryl

  33. Hi Linda,

    WOW, thanks so much! It’s just a short novella, but it came out this past December with The Wild Rose Press. Reviews have been great, but I have to laugh because everytime anyone has had anything “bad” to say, it’s that “it wasn’t long enough.” LOL So in a roundabout way, I guess I have to look at that as a compliment. LOL

    I have to agree with you. I would have gone with Tess vs. Tessa, too. And luckily it was an easy fix for you. Love SLOAN SULLIVAN, too. GREAT NAME!!! I’m like you about the blonds. I always write my heroes “tall dark and handsome.”

    Cheryl

  34. HEY CELIA!!!

    Yep, you’ve missed a few! I’ve been a “real filly” now since June! But I’m glad you are here and glad you enjoyed the post.

    I know exactly what you mean about putting “looks” with names. This is a funny story: When I was pregnant with Jessica, we already knew we were going to name her Jessica. My mom didn’t like that name, but it was what Gary wanted to use, and I thought it was pretty, just knew it was popular and she’d have to deal with a classroom full of kids with the same name. Well, after she was born, my mom just couldn’t seem to get her name out without thinking of it. All through the years, she would start to call her ELIZABETH!!!! She’d correct herself at the last minute: “Eliza-Jessica…” LOLLOL She’d always say, “I don’t know WHY, but she doesn’t look like a “Jessica” to me!”

    I have never known another Celia. So you are “the one and only”!!! UNFORGETTABLE!!!

    Your Cynthia in All My Hopes and Dreams was a wonderful character, and you did a fantastic job of showing all her personality traits! She couldn’t have been anything other than Cynthia.

    Thanks so much for coming over!
    Cheryl

  35. Hi Colleen,

    Oh, I am so pleased that you enjoyed the excerpt! This really is one of my favorite stories, and these characters’ names were just perfect for them and for the story. I’m like you–finding a perfect name for a character in a story is like discovering a hidden treasure. I enjoy that!

    Cheryl

  36. MISS MAE!!!

    I’m so glad to see you today! Now, isn’t that weird that we both have our wounded heroes? I DO wonder why we do that to the poor dears, but it makes for such a nice story usually that it just HAS to be that way–couldn’t be any other way, could it? LOL Of course, our heroines have to be “us” in many ways, don’t they? Since we are the creator of that person, it only stands to reason, I think.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post!!!
    Cheryl

  37. Hi Maggie,

    I am trying to make time to get back on the computer some. Just have had a lot to deal with in RL lately. I have been missing my bookspa friends, too! (And everyone else, since my computer time has been so limited.) I’m like you. I can’t get a feel for the character or even care about what’s going to happen to that person if I don’t KNOW them, and knowing them means I have like the name. I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt–please do not worry about the typos–I like to think you were excited about reading the post and the excerpt. LOL

    Cheryl

  38. TANYA!!!

    So good to see you back from your grand adventure. I cannot wait to hear about it. I’m not crazy about names that don’t fit the times, either, because it pulls you out of the story somehow.

    I loved The Wolf and the Dove! You know, what I really loved about that book was that Wulfgar (was that his name?) seemed to care about Aislinn from the very beginning. He didn’t try to degrade her, and he managed to treat her well and keep the respect of his men. No small feat!

    My first romance book I ever read was SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by Rosemary Rogers. OH MY. I was in love with Steve Morgan in the very worst way. LOL Yes, those names have to be just right, and like you, my secondary characters’ names seem to come along a lot easier than the main characters’ do sometimes.

    I can’t wait to get hold of Linda’s book. I just finished Pam Crooks’ book, HANNAH’S VOW. What a great read that was. I was sorry to see it end, but now I know I have to make another trip to the bookstore. So many good books, so little time!!!

    Thanks for taking time out to comment, Tanya, I know you are really busy since you just got back.

    Cheryl

  39. Thanks for an interesting and helpful post.
    I was checking some of the names in our family tree for the 1800s. There was a mix of french (my grandmother’s side) and irish (my grandfather’s side). Between 1841 and 1852, there was Patrick, Peter, Laurence, Jean Baptiste and James for the boys and Suzanne, Mary, Julie and Bridget for the girls. I find it interesting that in the next generation, Patrick married Alphosine and named their children Patrick J., Joseph George, Mary Rosiana, Mary Jane, Joseph Alexander, Marie Louise, Joseph Arthur, and Mary Yvone(Eva). It must have been very confusing around that house. I don’t know when they died, but all three Marys lived to have children. My grandmother was Emma Josephine born in 1897. She always went by Josephine or Josie. My mother’s side of the family is all french names until you get to her generation.

    Names are an interesting study. If you take mine – Patricia – you can have any number of nick names all with a slightly different feel to them: Pat, Patsy, Patti, Trish, Tricia, etc.

  40. Hi Patricia,

    My great-grandmother was Josephine! But, like yours, people called her Josie. She had a daughter (my grandmother’s sister) named Emma. And my grandmother was…Mary. LOL I think that is so interesting about all the Marys in your family. Something similar happened in our family a few generations back, and it has made the tracing hard. One branch had several “Johns” and another had several “Georges”–some due to the death of an older sibling and then the younger sibling, when it was born, was named the same thing as the one who had passed away. But sometimes, they just named the kids the same first name with a different middle name! I guess that must have been common to do back then. We have a lot of Irish, Scottish, Native American, and a bit of German.

    Yes, your name has a whole list of variations, doesn’t it? And as you say, each one with a different feel to it. Thanks so much for your comment–I love learning about all these names out there!

    Cheryl

  41. Hi Cheryl, what a great post. I always think carefully about my heroine’s name. In French Peril, I chose Cheryl because the French hero will call her cherie. In To Love A Hero, the heroine is Cecil and becomes Cecilya to the Russian hero. My heroes are more easy to name.

    Very nice excerpt. I like the way you dated the names. In fact my little granddaughters, 6, 5 and 4 are Olivia, Julia and Madelyn, but their moms don’t like to use nicknames.

  42. HI Cheryl!

    What a fun post! I loved your 3 tips, even wrote them down. 🙂 I adore finding little tidbits such as those. Thanks!

    The excerpt was wonderful. Your voice is just stunning!((hugs!))

  43. Hi Mona! Thanks so much! I was so thrilled to see that you had named a heroine Cheryl! There aren’t many heroines out there named Cheryl, for sure. My sister named her daughter Cherie. My husband had an aunt named Cecil, and I have a cousin named Julia, but we always called her Julie (she insisted on it after Bobby Sherman had his song out…”Julie Julie Julie do ya love me?”)LOL

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks so much for coming by!
    Cheryl

  44. SARAH!!!!
    HOW ARE YOU???? Has your life settled down any? LOL You are one busy woman! I am so thrilled that you came over and commented. So glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you SO MUCH for the kind words–that just means the world to me.

    Hugs back atcha!
    Cheryl

  45. Cheryl, nice post. 🙂 Names do say so much about a person and a story doesn’t work if the personality doesn’t fit the character.

    Of course, names can be too personal to readers. I have a friend who can’t make herself read my series because of one of the character names! Maybe eventually she’ll get past that, but what can you do?

  46. As a reader, I know that names register with me. I find that my favorite stories have names that speak to me.

    I must say that I am an avid fan of Christmas novels. I could read them all year long. I enjoyed the excerpt and must say I am hooked. I will definitely add it to my MUST read list. Would love to win a copy.

    I also love the cover art on An Night For Miracles.

  47. Hey Loraine! So good to see you here, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I know what you mean about the names being too personal sometimes. I have a friend who will not finish reading Fire Eyes because she has a brother named Andrew (my villain’s first name) and she just couldn’t stand to finish the book thinking of this villain being named the same thing as her brother. Like Ricky Nelson said, “You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.” One of the greatest lines ever.LOL

    Glad you stopped in!
    Cheryl

  48. Hi Cindy!

    Oh, I am the same way about Christmas stories! LOVE THEM. I have a free read (short story) that’s a Christmas tale at The Wild Rose Press, UNTIL THE LAST STAR BURNS OUT–it’s a holiday story and it’s totally free. A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES is a little novella, but it’s only $1.99 I think, so it won’t break the bank. It’s also available at The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com) I haven’t done a giveaway for a while, now that you mention it, so maybe the next time I blog I can set something up to offer a prize! Great idea!

    Thanks so much for commenting–I appreciate it!
    Cheryl

  49. Thanks to each and every one of you for popping in and commenting on my heroine naming post! LOL I appreciate it, and love hearing from everyone. Take care and I will see you all again in 2 weeks on August 25th!
    Cheryl

  50. Hi Cheryl, I’m late to comment. You’re so right about naming heroines. At times, my heroine’s name will just pop. Other times, it’s an agonizing process to figure out her name. But it has to just right or I can’t write her love story.

    Poignant and powerful excerpt!

  51. Hey Savanna!

    It’s okay, I’m just glad you made it over here! I soooo agree. I have to really like the heroine’s name or I can’t really get into her skin and know her emotions.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt! This is one of my favorite stories.

    Cheryl

  52. hi cheryl!
    i’m behind a day…but catching up

    love the topic–i have often wondered how names came about
    i know if i wrote a book the heroine would have a whole bunch of me and what i wanted to be wrapped up in her 🙂

    LOVED your excerpt!
    will add A Night For Miracles to my tbb list

  53. Tabitha! It doesn’t matter if you’re late, I always love to hear from people! Glad you enjoyed the post so much and the excerpt. Yep, when you write, your characters do have a bunch of “you” wrapped up in them. That’s why our books feel like our “babies.” LOL

    No, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES is only in e-book format since it is a novella, but you can order it through The Wild Rose Press at http://www.thewildrosepress.com Just click on my name on the “Authors” sidebar and my page will come up with everything on it. Thanks so much for ordering it, and thanks for taking the time to come over and comment, too!

    Cheryl

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